Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1729
Presbyter Cato advanced slowly but regularly in the Church hierarchy. He refuses to be ordained bishop of Clermont against the canon law, shortly after AD 551. Account of Gregory of Tours, "Histories", Tours (Gaul), AD 573–594.
Episcopi tamen qui advenerant ad sanctum Gallum sepeliendum, postquam eum sepelierant, dixerunt Catoni presbitero: "Videmus, quia te valde diligit pars maxima populorum; veni, consenti nobis, et benedicentes consecremus te ad episcopatum. Rex vero parvulus est, et si qua tibi adscribitur culpa, nos suscipientes te sub defensione nostra, cum proceribus et primis regni Theodovaldi regis agemus, ne tibi ulla excitetur iniuria. Nobis quoque in tantum fideliter crede, ut spondeamus pro te omnia, etiamsi damni aliquid supervenerit, de nostris propriis facultatibus id reddituros". Ad haec ille coturno vanae conflatus gloriae, ait: "Nostis enim fama currente, me ab initio aetatis meae semper religiose vixisse, vacasse ieiuniis, elemosinis delectatum fuisse, continuatas saepius exercuisse vigilias, psallentio vero iugi crebra perstitisse statione nocturna. Nec me dominus Deus meus patitur ab hac ordinatione privari, cui tantum famulatum exibui. Nam et ipsos clericati grados canonica sum semper institutione sortitus. Lector decim annis fui, subdiaconatus officium quinque annis ministravi, diaconatui vero quindecim annis mancipatus fui, presbiterii, inquam, honorem viginti annis potior. Quid enim mihi nunc restat, nisi ut episcopatum, quem fidelis servitus promeretur, accipiam? Vos igitur revertimini ad civitates vestras, et si quid utilitati vestrae conpetit, exercete; nam ego canonice adsumpturus sum hunc honorem". Haec audientes episcopi et in eum vanam gloriam exsecrantes, discesserunt.
(ed. Krusch 1937: 139)
When they had buried Saint Gall, the bishops who had come to his funeral said to the presbyter Cato, "We observe that you are beloved by the majority of the people. Come, then, join us in agreement (consenti), and we will give you our blessing and consecrate you as bishop. For the king is only a child, and if anyone criticizes you, we will protect you and deal with the nobles (proceribus et primis) from the realm of King Theudebald, so that no injustice will befall you. You may trust implicitly in us, for we give you our support in all this, and if you suffer loss of any sort we will make it up to you from our own resources". To this, filled with proud and vain glory, Cato said, "You are well aware that from the very beginning of my life I have lived piously, being hungry because of fasting, taking pleasure in almsgiving, repeatedly enduring long vigils and the yoke of chanting psalms upright all night. The Lord my God will not now permit me to be deprived of this ordination, for I have shown him such obedience. For I have been promoted through all the clerical ranks according to canonical precept. I was a lector for ten years; for five years I performed the duties of subdeacon; for fifteen years I served as deacon; and I have held the dignity of the presbyterate for the last twenty years. What is left for me to do but to accept episcopacy as the reward for my faithful service? As for you, you should go back to your cities, and if there is something [you can do] to your advantage, do it. For I wish to be ordained to this honour in the canonical way". When they heard this the bishops went on their way, cursing the pride of this man Cato.
(trans. Thorpe 1974: 200–201, altered by J. Szafranowski)


According to Gregory of Tours (Life of the Fathers 6.5) and Venantius Fortunatus (Carmen 4.4), Gallus died on 14 May 551; his funeral was certainly held in the same year.
In the light of this passage, Cato entered the ranks of Clermont's clergy in AD 501, became subdeacon in 511, deacon in 516, and presbyter in 531.

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Clermont

About the source:

Author: Gregory of Tours
Title: The History of the Franks, Gregorii episcopi Turonensis historiarum libri X, Histories
Origin: Tours (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Gregory of Tours (Gaul) wrote his ten books of Histories (known commonly in English as the History of the Franks) during his episcopal reign in Tours between 573 and 594. The books vary in scope and length. The first book covers 5,596 years from the creation of the world to AD 397, that is the death of Saint Martin of Tours, Gregory`s predecessor in bishopric. The second book deals with the history of Gaul between 397 and 511, the latter being the year of death of King Clovis I. The third and fourth books cover the next 64 years till the death of Austrasian King Sigibert II in 575. Finally, the following six books describe exclusively the sixteen years from 575 to 591. Probably in 594, Gregory added the list of bishops of Tours in the end of the Histories, with brief accounts of their actions.
B. Krusch ed., Gregorii Episcopi Turonensis Historiarum Libri X [in:] Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingiciarum 1.1, Hannover 1884 (repr. 1951): 1­-537.
Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. L. Thorpe, London 1974.


Former ecclesiastical career - Lower clergy
Former ecclesiastical career - Deacon
Functions within the Church - Urban presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Impediments or requisits for the office - Age
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Episcopal ambitions
Theoretical considerations - On church hierarchy
Devotion - Vigils
Devotion - Fasting
Devotion - Almsgiving
Devotion - Ascetic practice
Ritual activity - Chanting
Education - Knowledge of canons
Impediments or requisits for the office - Ecclesiastical career
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1729,